Saturday, April 15, 2006

Awesome Suggestions

The programming suggestions that came in as comments to my first posting are terrific, and I want MORE. First, I’m going to comment on the comments.

Pasolini’s THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW seems like a sure thing, and I think I have a line on a relatively new print. I remember that it was mentioned quite a bit around the time Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ was released, generally by critics who did not view Gibson’s version favorably. Pasolini’s TEOREMA might also be a good, more scandalous, choice, possibly alongside other “Christ-figures” movies. (No, that probably will be a road not taken, because there are just too many candidates: E.T., Shane, The Terminator (JC= John Connor), etc. Then again, it would be interesting to alternate these with some movie anti-Christs: (The Omen, The Devil’s Advocate, The Exorcist, etc.).

Groundhog Day was mentioned to me before, but I shrugged it off. Then I listened to that Christopher Lydon podcast that was sent as a link in one of the comments, and now I’m thoroughly convinced. Buddhists seem to have the greatest claim to it (it’s a story of Bill Murray’s successive reincarnations, which continue until he gets it right and achieves selflessness), but a lot of other religions seem to want to claim it too.

The only problem with Groundhog Day is that we showed it last year, and even brought Harold Ramis to introduce it. Still, it would be interesting to have a panel of different religious authorities address it. One of the things I enjoy about programming this festival is showing how movies can become entirely new when viewed through different thematic lenses. For example, we showed The Manchurian Candidate in 1995’s U.S. and Them festival, where it was discussed as a take on Cold War paranoia. We brought it back in 1998 as part of the Cool festival, when its great jazz soundtrack was the focus of guest composer David Amram’s fascinating commentary.

So many people have suggested Elmer Gantry to me, that I’ve just moved it to the top of my video rental queue (which is now up to a mere 148 movies), since I’ve never seen it. Notice I didn’t mention the name of the rental source, while our sponsorship proposal to the corporation is still pending. I’m only half-joking. We’re actively searching for new sponsors and supporters; you can send leads to festdev@virginia.edu and find our donor levels here: http://www.vafilm.com/getInvolved.html .

The Life of Brian is almost a sure thing. And a Bresson film, possibly Au Hasard Balthasar.

That question that someone sent in about movies that “show Islam in an understanding, let alone, favorable light” is a tough one. Maybe Malcolm X? Kiarostami’s A Taste of Cherry, which might be sacreligious in addressing the taboo of suicide? Can others offer suggestions? (Also just added to my queue: The Message, which apparently tells the story of Islam without depicting Mohammed).

I like the idea of showing The Apostle and Tender Mercies, and hopefully persuading Robert Duvall to visit our festival again. The Say Amen Somebody idea is great, especially if we can get a choir into the theater to follow it.

Keep ‘em coming.



6 Comments:

Blogger Lyle Solla-Yates said...

I love this concept. I immediately got the "Amen" song stuck in my head from Lilies of the Field. What a charming film, taking the theme at face value.

On the other hand, Finding God at the Movies...to blame for the downfall of humanity: The Root of All Evil?. It was originally a television documentary, but I think you'll agree that the content is relevant, and will get people talking.

And of course, Finding God at the Movies...and recoiling in horror and confusion: Videodrome. One of my favorite movies, though the theme there is really finding God on video.

Finally, going the somewhat more oblique route, I expect you'll agree that Peter Sellers makes an excellent Christ-figure in Being There.

Great idea soliciting suggestions by blog, I never would have thought to otherwise.

4:01 AM  
Blogger May said...

Thank you for the opportunity to suggest a film.

I HIGHLY recommend the new documentary "Hand of God" by Joe Cultrera of Zingerplatz Pictures. This is an intimate portrait of the filmmaker's brother (who was abused by a Catholic priest 20 years ago), the filmaker, their family and small community. It explores this often visited controversial and disturbing subject of abuse in the Catholic church, but in a completely new way than I have seen before. It is not sensationalistic or vengeful, but a thoughtful and insightful journey of one man and one family transcending and making sense of such an experience, and, so appropriately for your festival, trying to find where God fits amidst all of it. This year it has already played at numerous film festivals and won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at The Ashland Independent Film Festival in Ashland, Oregon.
I think this is a very important film that all can learn from and will provoke lots of interesting discussions. I urge you to check it out!
www.handofgodfilm.com

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the theme of Tom Shady... I mean, religion is a great idea for this year's fest. I would second the Apostle suggestion. To followup your idea of having a gospel choir, why not go ahead and host an all out gospel revival, say, at the downtown mall? Maybe, you can even get the real life preachers that were featured in the beginning of the Apostle. I particulary am found of Paul "He did a backflip on the Devil" Baggett. Googled his contact info:
http://www.livingtogo.org.

The other real preachers in the film are:
Reverend Chili Graham .... Tag Team Preacher #5
Reverend Bobby Green .... Tag Team Preacher #1
Reverend Charles Johnson .... Tag Team Preacher #2

Couple a "Say Amen" choir with all-star, tag team preachin, and I might damn well be born again.

Ed

PS: Good Tom Shadyac article on religion:
http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies/commentaries/fof_shadyac.html

10:38 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

How about the following?

"Black Narcissus", Krzysztof Kieslowski's "The Decalogue" (or parts of it), "Eye of God", "The Last Wave" (for a dose of the End Times) and "The Passion of Joan of Arc".

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

Richard, I'm very, very excited about the festival theme. What come to mind for me are:

Víctor Erice's Spirit of the Beehive,
Luis Bunuel's Simon of the Desert,
Werner Herzog's Aguirre: The Wrath of God, and Alexandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain

It's hard to know if prints exist for any of those, but you'd be the best man to find out.

1:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard,

Suggestions:

"Babette's Feast", for obvious reasons, Gourmet Food=God.

"The Miracle of Morgan Creek". For those of you who don't know it, one of the best from Writer/Director Preston Sturges. A single woman gets pregnant and manages to convince the town it is an immaculate conception. A radical film in the 40's that somehow sneaked past the centors.

"Tommy", the Ken Russell film is not only one of the best musicals ever made, but contains powerhouse performances from Tina Turner and Ann Margaret. Deaf, dumb and blind boy healed, starts a religion, ends up being destroyed by it. Brilliant.

Bruce

1:05 PM  

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